Pedernales Electric Cooperative held a Historical Marker Dedication Ceremony honoring Lyndon B. Johnson and Hill Country Electrification last Friday at PEC’s Babe Smith Headquarters Building in Johnson City. The event featured the unveiling of an Official Texas Historical Marker. This marker was dedicated to Lyndon B. Johnson for his tireless dedication to bringing electricity to the rural Texas Hill Country. PEC worked closely with the Blanco County Historical Commission to bring this marker to Johnson City and PEC’s headquarters.
According to a press release from PEC, “Blanco County Historical Commission is proud to be a part of this event to honor a man we all loved, our friend and neighbor, President Lyndon B. Johnson,” said Nell Krueger, commission chair. “He was so proud of his heritage — his Hill Country — proud of what he and his friends accomplished by bringing light and power to the Hill Country. Their efforts resulted in economic gain and a better way of life. PEC has changed the lifestyle and the lives in this area, making our world a better place by being here.”
During his successful run for the U.S. Congress in 1937, Johnson promised to bring electricity to the sparsely populated Texas Hill Country. With the help of area ranchers, including E. Babe Smith, Johnson had successfully recruited about 3,300 residents by 1938. The Rural Electrification Administration then awarded a loan to PEC to build more than 1,700 miles of electric lines, the largest allotment ever made. In 1939, electricity began to flow and PEC became the nation’s largest electric cooperative. The Co-op continues to be the largest electric distribution cooperative in the nation, with more than 237,000 meters and a service area larger than Massachusetts.
“It is an honor to celebrate LBJ’s efforts and recognize the historical, economical and social impact of rural electrification,” said PEC Community Relations Manager Toni Reyes.
The ceremony kicked off at 10 AM with the Blanco County Community Choir singing “Deep in the Heart of Texas” and “God Bless America.” Following that, Reverend Lee Romero of Johnson City First United Methodist Church gave the Invocation and the American Legion Memorial Highway Post #352 of Blanco Presented the Colors and led the Pledge of Allegiance. The Blanco County Community Choir then sang our National Anthem. Dr. Patrick Cox, PEC Board Member, gave a warm welcome and handed the mic over to RB Sloan, PEC CEO, who delivered acknowledgments and recognitions.
Next, Russ Whitlock, LBJ National Historical Park Superintendent, gave an elaborate and very interesting history of the Hill Country. Marsha Sharp, LBJ Library & Museum Education Specialist took over the story with the history of LBJ & Hill Country Electrification Process. Then, the Honorable Jason Issac, State Representative of District 45, gave the Presentation of Proclamation, and the marker was unveiled. Those doing the unveiling were The Honorable Harvey Hilderbran, State Representative of District 53; the Honorable Judge Bill Guthrie, Blanco County; and Nell Krueger, Blanco County Historical Commission Representative. Finally, Dr. Patrick Cox closed the ceremony and welcomed everyone to join in the reception and auditorium exhibit.
Lyndon B. Johnson said himself, “...of all the things I have ever done, nothing has ever given me as much satisfaction as bringing power to the Hill Country of Texas.”
For more information about Honoring LBJ’s Legacy: Lighting the Hill Country and PEC, visit the Co-op’s website, www.pec.coop.